I thought I’d compile a little list of things that are not widely known, or publicised about black people and dispel the myths that we don’t contribute to society, are lazy, or only out for a government cheque. I am sure there will be a least two points that shock you!!
Sooo I am just going to jump right into it really.
1. George Washington Carver: Scientist, botanist, inventor, chemist.
Born into slavery circa 1864. Despite this, he became a very prominent scientist. Studying peanuts, soybeans, pecans and sweet potatoes, he devised over 100 ways to use them including the invention of numerous dyes, plastics and gasoline. He also advised Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi on nutritional & agricultural matters.
2. Lonnie G. Johnson: Holds over 80 Patents!
Born in 1949. Graduated with a master’s degree from Tuskegee University. Joined the U.S Air Force, helping them to develop the stealth bomber program. Worked as a systems engineer for the Cassini mission to Saturn and the Galileo mission to Jupiter.
AND….he created the SUPER SOAKER yo!!
3. Lewis Latimer: Numerous inventions!
Born in 1848 to runaway slaves George and Rebecca Latimer.
Co-invented and made improvements to the toilets on trains.
Done the patent drawings / application for Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone!! Basically without Latimer, Bell would not have had the patent.
As if all that wasn’t amazing, Latimer, in 1880, went on to work for Maxim – Thomas Edison rival, eventually devising a way to make the light bulb last longer than any other (Edison’s) by doing some clever stuff to the filament (the bit inside the bulb). This clever stuff then meant light bulbs were safe enough to be installed throughout households and streets! Major right!
Talks of Latimer’s genius spread like wildfire and he was put in charge of rolling out electricity all over the states, and eventually London. He oversaw the installations of electricity in train stations and some of the first electric plants.
Huge fan, Thomas Edison, hired Latimer as his chief draftsman and patent expert.
Other inventions include: Safety Elevator, book support (an early book shelf), and what he called an Apparatus for Cooling and Disinfecting that was used in many hospitals as it prevented dust and other particles from circulating in patients rooms and around the hospital in general.
4. Benjamin Banneker: An astronomer, Surveyor, Astro-Architect, mathematician, farmer and author of one of the very first almanac’s.
Was heavily involved in fighting slavery and often wrote letters challenging Thomas Jefferson.
Designed the layout of Washington DC AND made the first clock in America! Some say that BIG BEN in London (UK) was actually named after him!
5. William H. Richardson:
William patented the first reversible pushchair, where the carriage could turn to face the person pushing. He also made changes to the wheel, allowing them to move individually, meaning 360 degree turns were possible. These ideas are still in use today!
6. Garret Morgan: Born 1877. Serial inventor.
Invented something called the safety hood, know today as a gas mask which would aid with breathing in areas of excess smoke, gas or other pollutants. While trying to sell it to fire departments, he would often give a live demo, going directly into fires!! However, racism, as it always tends to do, rared its ugly head while he was trying to sell in certain areas, so he had to hire a white actor, to pose as the inventor, while he posed as a native american sidekick, doing the demo’s (ridiculous!). But his plan worked, and he was able to get more sales.
But how ridiculous is that though, a black man selling something that can save your life – nooooo, i’d rather die! A white guy with a poc as a sidekick, selling the exact same thing – oh yes! where do I sign!
Anyway – Saved the best till last (slightly biased because she’s a woman hehe)
7. Dr Patricia E. Bath: Born 1942. Inventor, ophthalmologist & humanitarian.
She has broken many gender and racial barriers! She was the 1st black female Dr to receive a medical patent, was the 1st woman to be hired by the Jules Stein Eye Institute, to head a post grad training program in ophthalmology and elected to the the honorary staff of the UCLA Medical center.
What’s more amazing, is that she is the inventor of the laserphaco probe which uses laser technology to remove cataracts!!! So if you have had laser eye surgery to remove cataracts, it is this black woman that you have to thank!
Now go forth and spread this knowledge!